When it comes to washing our clothes, we would be lost without our washing machines. However, the development of this essential everyday product is relatively recent.
Only 50 years ago it would have been common in the UK for families to have mainly hand-washed their clothes. Many people were still using old-fashioned methods such as a hand-driven 'mangle' to squeeze the water out of clothes in order to help them to dry.
But despite all of the new technologies and biological detergents in use today, is there any information that can be gathered from the past for those who want to make sure their washing is extra clean?
Although most washing machines have extended programme 'pre-wash' functions, these often go unused because of the extra time they take to complete the cycle. Sometimes there can also be concerns about how much extra energy they might consume in the process.
However, letting any kind of washing soak in a water and detergent solution is the best way to remove stubborn or ingrained stains. This includes grass or oil, meaning a ‘pre wash’ can be particularly useful for work clothes or sportswear. Leaving an item to soak overnight in the sink or bath means there is no inconvenience. It also gives enough time for the stains to be dislodged before a good run in the washing machine.
The use of bleach on clothes has gone out of fashion recently because most washing machine manufacturers warn against its use in their machines. However, bleaching can be the best way to get whites looking as good as new. However, sufficient care must be taken to avoid getting splashes of bleach on other coloured clothing, whilst also being aware of the potential health hazards that bleach can present.
Of course, bleach is also useful for making sure that any potential infections or bacteria are killed off. In this sense, it can be extremely effective when needing to wash bedding or clothing from someone who has had an illness of this nature.
Hanging on the line
Before washing machines incorporated fast-spinning drums, there used to be separate 'dryers' for this process. Most modern domestic appliances, have spin speeds of 1,600 revolutions per minute. This means that clothing is relatively dry when it comes out of the machine.
Those people who have a garden or a large enough balcony or terrace, will often still swear by the idea of hanging washing on an outside line. This is not only because it means that there isn't a smell of slightly damp washing drying around the house, but also that it actually makes clothes look and feel that little bit cleaner.